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Missoula Personal Injury Blog

Daydreaming could be more distracting to drivers than cellphones

Most of the distracted driving accidents that took place in Montana and around the country over the last five years were caused by drivers who were daydreaming or lost in thought, according to a recent study from Erie Insurance. These findings contradict the prevailing narrative that the recent surge in distracted driving is largely due to cellphone use. Erie Insurance researchers produced their report, which was released at the beginning of Distracted Driving Awareness Month, after studying Fatality Analysis Reporting System data about accidents that claimed the lives of 172,000 road users.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's FARS database relies heavily on the reports filed by police officers who respond to motor vehicle accident scenes, and some experts believe that this means the problem of distracted driving is being underreported. This is because distraction leaves few clues for law enforcement, and a driver who has just caused an accident may not be eager to admit that he or she was not paying attention.

Data entry software can reduce risk of misdiagnosis

Misdiagnosis or a failure to diagnose a severe illness like cancer can be a significant fear for patients visiting the doctor or going to the hospital in Montana and across the country. There can be serious consequences of an incorrect diagnosis or other doctor error, because people can receive incorrect and potentially harmful treatment while lacking much-needed treatment for their actual disorder. This can lead to a declining health condition or even the possibility of the disease becoming untreatable. This means that for health institutions concerned about both liability and patient care, reducing diagnostic errors is a priority.

When performing bone density scans, the use of data entry software for radiology departments can help to cut down on the number of diagnostic errors. This is especially true when reporting the results of ultrasound or dual-energy X-ray (DEXA) radiology tests. The software can also help save time and money; over a five-year period, a study indicated that using this type of software could save a hospital $1 million in radiologists' wages. Most important for patients, however, is the fact that between 6 and 28 percent of all reports from ultrasound or DEXA radiology contain errors related to data entry.

Charting errors could lead to major medical mistakes

Medical errors can have long-lasting and dangerous consequences for patients receiving treatment in Montana. In fact, medical mistakes remain one of the leading causes of death in the United States as over 250,000 people die each year due to such errors. This means that reducing the number and severity of mistakes is critical for patient health and safety.

Because most treatment provided to patients is documented, omitted or incorrect information on a medical chart can lead to serious effects and later mistreatment. While digital records have been a major advance in medical technology, these advances could occasionally lead to medical errors that are more difficult to correct. In order to protect patients, it is important for nurses to record all relevant information, including food and drug allergies. If actions for a patient are not recorded, later shifts may make errors due to missing information.

Recognizing soft tissue injuries

Many car accident victims in Montana and across the U.S. suffer from soft tissue injuries, sometimes without knowing it. This is because injuries to the soft tissue, like muscles, tendons and ligaments, do not show up on X-rays like trauma to hard tissue, such as bones and cartilage, does. The onset of symptoms can vary widely with some people experiencing pain and swelling a few hours after an accident and some individuals only after a few days after a collision.

The nature of soft tissue injuries make getting a correct medical diagnosis very difficult. Soft tissue is normally damaged when the impact of an accident causes it to stretch to a dangerous degree. This can result in sprains, soreness, strain and even tears. In serious cases, victims may experience problems with certain sensory and motor functions. There may also be bleeding.

Complacency: A danger for all who drive on Montana roadways

When you first learned to drive, you likely experienced times when you felt nervous or afraid behind the wheel. With time, your comfort level may have increased until you reached the point where driving felt like second nature. The problem with getting too comfortable while driving is that it can lead to complacency, which is a common factor among many distracted driving accidents. You want to be comfortable, yes, but never so comfortable that you lose your focus on the task at hand.

There are several main types of distractions that most often lead to a collision. These include behaviors that are cognitive, manual or visual. Each of these distraction types may include complacency, however, and if you throw in fatigue, being in a hurry or feeling frustrated at other motorists, you've got a recipe for disaster. If you remain alert, focused and cautious, it increases your chances of safely reaching your destination. In the unfortunate case that a distracted driver causes you injury, it's crucial to know where to turn for help.

Explaining FELA claims for railroad workers

Montana residents who are employed by railroad companies are protected under the Federal Employers Liability Act if they are injured while they are working on the job. This law differs from state workers' compensation laws, however. Under FELA, people are required to prove that the railroad company was negligent and caused their injuries as a result.

FELA covers nearly all employees of railroads, including those whose jobs don't involve working on trains or tracks such as office staff. People must also be able to prove that the railroad was negligent in some manner that caused their injuries. However, the required negligence can be very slight, which is known as featherweight negligence.

Why women may not get proper care during a heart attack

Generally speaking, a woman's heart isn't any weaker than a man's. Therefore, they should have similar odds of surviving a heart attack given similar treatment. However, women are three times more likely to die from a heart attack within one year of having it than is a man. Women in Montana and around the country are often not given the same type of treatment that a man is given when experiencing this health issue.

A survey conducted in Sweden found that women were 34 percent less likely to receive a bypass procedure and have stents inserted into their arteries. One reason may be because doctors don't necessarily know when a woman is having a heart attack. Instead of having pain in their chest, they may have cold sweats, nausea and fatigue. In a study conducted in 2000, women were approximately seven times more likely than men to have their heart attack misdiagnosed.

The process of pursuing a medical malpractice claim

Not every mistake by a Montana doctor or hospital qualifies as negligence. Ideally, when a patient experiences a negative outcome after treatment or surgery, the medical provider will acknowledge the problem and take action to reduce the harm. A medical provider who dodges questions about what went wrong, however, might justify the patient taking legal action.

Pursuing a settlement will take time. While a case is working its way through the legal process, the patient must continue to cope with the pain and difficulty caused by the medical error. Someone disabled by a medical event might need to hire a home health aid and install equipment for handicapped people. These costs might eventually be recovered through a pretrial settlement or if a jury decides in favor of the victim.

How robots are improving medical outcomes

People in Montana and throughout the country may be increasingly treated using robots during diagnosis and surgery, and researchers say that this will lead to more positive outcomes. One of those devices is a 3D-printed robot that researchers say can enter an MRI chamber and do biopsies for suspected breast cancer. In tests that involved taking biopsies from model breasts, the robotic system was accurate to a sub-millimeter degree. Currently, breast biopsies are done using a larger needle; they may require several attempts and are less efficient.

The device, known as Stormram 4, is made of plastic since metal cannot be used in an MRI, and researchers use air pressure to control it. It will be several years before the device is approved: There must be further testing and development before it meets regulatory standards.

Pinpointing causes of car crashes can help avoid them

Car crashes are always a concern for drivers in Montana and across the country as 6 million accidents take place each year in the United States. There is a wide range of causes for car accidents, and the number of incidents increased in both 2015 and 2016.

Several studies have helped identify detailed explanations for car accidents; these studies seek not only to understand why crashes happen but how to prevent them from occurring in the future. One 2008 study examined 6,950 motor vehicle accidents and detailed their causes. Other studies equipped cars with sonar, sensors and cameras, tracking the daily usage patterns and accidents of participating cars. All of this research has revealed several major factors in causing car crashes, often the result of simple misunderstandings.


Towe & Fitzpatrick, PLLC
619 SW Higgins, Ste. O
P.O. Box 1745
Missoula, MT 59806

Phone: 406-203-5148
Phone: 406-829-1669
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